This past weekend I went to the Sunset Junction street fair in ultra-hipsterville Silverlake, Los Angeles, California. I'm telling you what, folks: there were absolute square miles of tightly-packed tattoos and haircuts galore: miles of people wearing their favorite musical sub-culture with 150% committment. There's something silly about that, and it's easy to make fun, but there's something truly heart-warmingly uncynical about it, too. For those of you living in Los Angeles, you can see the phenomenon I'm talking about any day of the week at Amoeba Records on Sunset, and it is magnificent.
Anyway, I went with my little monkey and my brother Zak, who is tight with hipsters and music types, and who was wearing a very nice brown hat:
My brother says I shouldn't fool myself, because I'm tight with loads of hipsters, too; but I have to say, I think I'm tighter with geeks, some of whom have hip costumes on, but for the most part, aren't really as hip as they make out. I think it's possible that I fall into that category as well, what with being in my thirties, motherhood, and the fact that I tend to be a little behind the curve on the latest developments in indie rock... Except that I don't ever have anything hip to wear, unfortunately. Believe me, I wish like hell I did. Don't get me wrong, here: I like the hipsters.
The big attraction for us at The Junction was a performance by Camper Van Beethoven, a band that of my brother, sister, and I loved with special devotion for their brilliant numbers like Take the Skinheads Bowling, Good Guys and Bad Guys, and Joe Stalin's Cadillac, all of which we enjoyed thousands of consecutive times as teenagers in the 80's.
Later, I think Camper Van elevated themselves into favorite band ever status for my brother with the release of their especially delicious album Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, which I can recommend to you all with unalloyed enthusiasm. Given all that, it's crazy that years later, my brother befriended one of the players in that band without knowing of his Camper Van-hood, and that on Sunday, we had to rush to the show, park illegally in front of the Salvation Army, and power-walk through the oceans of punkers, cross-dressers, greasers, and coolsters to deliver a delay pedal to that guy, because he forgot his at home; and that right now, that guy's car is parked in my driveway for four days while they drive around in a van to play their songs in Arizona and whatnot. Life is full of unexpected outcomes, and thank god, because sometimes that's all there is to hang onto, really. Not that this particular unexpected outcome is making that big a difference, but there might be another one, sometime on the horizon that could. I'm just saying.
Anyway, Camper Van (as we called them, with familiar affection, when we were kids) played a very nice set; and also, I love my brother, so it was especially (and I use this word only because I hope it might remind my brother of Fat Elvis in Vegas) poignant to be with him while the sun was setting behind the stage and the clouds were turning pink and orange, singing "...drive your car up on the lawn..." with him and his charming hat, which also looked completely fetching on my big pimpin' 12 year old little monkey.
Like I mentioned before, it's funny what ends up happening sometimes, and this trip to Silverlake was the kind of episode that made me feel myself as singular and traveling; carrying all the memories of my youth, and still riding alongside my brother, watching the days and faces change. Adding to that feeling was the fact that earlier in the week, my brother had gotten a blast from the past when Eric Gaffney, whom I had a big fat crush on as a teenager, although I'm not sure he ever knew it, and who later, it turns out, went on to be in that band Sebadoh (but now he's not), happened to show up in my brothers bar in Glendale. Although my brother forgot to bring his phone number, and we never found Eric in the crowd, I knew he remembered the song my dad wrote for me to quell my fear of garbage trucks when I was a girl, and that he might be around any corner, and it only added to my awesome feeling of strange continuity.
Later in the evening, X played, and the crowds got so thick and tight that it was impossible to move without using your shoulder as a crowbar. It was a little too much for my monkey, which was disappointing, because I really wish he could have seen Exene rock it, but I couldn't really see either. I'm short. All I could manage was to hold my camera up over my head and take blurry pictures like this one:
We ended up with my brother spearheading the retreat, monkey in the middle, and climbing a chainlink fence to watch until our hands were aching from hanging onto metal, and then he bought himself and my monkey a hot dog wrapped in bacon from a little Latino girl. And then, they actually ate it.
After the escape from the crush, we ran into two things that, aside from feeling the love for my brother and my baby and the whole nostalgic journey, and how many gay couple were making out in Silverlake, were my two favorite things. First, there was the troupe of cross-dressing stilt walkers from yesterday's post, who were absolutely gorgeous:
And, on another note entirely, there's an Elliott Smith memorial wall, which is in front of the Solutions music store in Silverlake, where the cover photo for his CD Figure 8 was taken. Since his death, the wall has become a place for his fans to say good-bye, and this gets back to my point about the fact that there's something so NOT silly about people's devotion to the music and artists who have gotten into their hearts. For my part, I know too little of Elliot Smith's music, and the songs I do know never really got under my skin, but all the heartfelt farewells got me a little bit, especially this one, which really brought home to me how thin a thread we do hang onto sometimes:
I've been pretty stressed-out lately. I'm really dragging my heels in the job search because everything in me rebels against any further miserable office slavery, but at the same time, I'm afraid of what's on the horizon if I don't submit. I was only half-joking about the mission to consume all the emotional comfort food I can find, and only 1/4 joking about that throwing in of the towel.
I'll tell you the main thing about my trip to the Sunset Junction Street Fair in Silverlake, with it's acres of hipsters, my brother, Camper Van, the ghost of Eric Gaffney, the stilt-walkers, and the sad notes to Elliot Smith's ghost: it was comforting. I felt rich, and I felt lucky.